Colorado: Recession-hit small retailers are doing what it takes to survive |

Colorado: Recession-hit small retailers are doing what it takes to survive

Elizabeth Aguilera
The Denver Post
DENVER, CO--JULY 8TH 2009--Owner of Homer Reed Ltd. men's business and casual clothing store, Mark Reed, washes windows in the store front, 1717 Tremont Place in Downtown Denver Wednesday afternoon. THE DENVER POST/ANDY CROSS

Small-business owners are finding themselves back behind the counter, cleaning windows and greeting customers to make up for slow sales.

Those who already put in long hours at their shops are working harder and making cuts where they can to maintain a lean operation during the economic recession.

“I’m doing everything,” said Mark Reed, owner of high-end clothing retailer Homer Reed Ltd., with locations in downtown, Cherry Creek and south Denver. “I do all the shipping, the receiving. I clean the windows, I take care of every customer. I fit them, I call them, I deliver. It isn’t bad, I’m busy.”

Reed laid off four salespeople and is now down to seven employees: himself, his stepbrother and a longtime employee, each running one of the three stores; two tailors; a bookkeeper who now answers the phones; and a part-timer who shuffles among the stores.

Layoffs, pay cuts and shorter hours have become the norm across the retail landscape. Nationally, unemployment in the wholesale and retail trade sector increased nearly 3.4 percent between June 2008 and June 2009. In Colorado, employment in retail decreased by 8,400 jobs between May 2008 and May 2009.

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